What does a strong business plan look like?

Written by Callum Sharp

The content of your business plan will generally depend on the type of company you intend to set up, but there are some fundamental facts that you should include. For example…

Financial Performance

Financial planning is, of course, top of the list.  And as difficult as it is, you should try and forecast three to five years ahead.

Your forecasts should be based on a breakdown of:

  • Sales figures
  • Gross margins
  • The movement of working capital
  • Balance sheets
  • A profit and loss account

Include any major capital expenditure and how this is funded, too.

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Although there will be assumptions behind the forecasts, these assumptions should have facts and figures to back them up. Explain your reasons for predicted profits, working capital and cash flow.

Is there an industry benchmark with which you can compare these?

Business Operations

The vital first question is: do you require premises? This is a significant overhead, and you need to take into account the long-term commitment of buying or renting space. You also should consider present and future needs – is there room for expansion?

If you don’t require premises, then you must think about how you plan to operate. Turbine operates completely remotely, and we make it work for us in the best way we can. With the benefit of today’s digital technologies, you can run a business from practically anywhere. Employees can work remotely, and you can offer flexible working arrangements.

Your next overhead is equipment, which should be detailed in your plan. Equipment can cover anything from plant machinery and office equipment through to mobile devices and laptops issued to your workers.

Fundamentally, your business plan needs to describe your operating model, including the number of staff, and where and how they’ll be working.

Sales and Marketing Strategy

A primary aim of any business plan is to demonstrate how well you understand your intended market. This needs to be followed by an approximation of what you anticipate your market share will be. If there’s a current trend, how long will it last? Is there a reason behind the trend that will give it longevity?

Essentially, you need to ask yourself what your key market drivers are? Who are your intended customers? Are you aiming for a particular demographic?

Next, your sales and marketing strategy should outline how you plan to reach and retain these customers. The strategy should include a proposed marketing budget, any planned advertising campaigns, and a social media strategy.

The crucial point here is – what makes you different from the competition? You need to have a convincing reason why customers will choose your product or service.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis takes a look at your business capabilities in your chosen market.

What would you deem to be your strengths? These could be innovative products or a gap in the market. Weaknesses could include lack of investment or appropriately skilled workers.

An opportunity, for example, could be an increase in demand for what you’re offering, while threats could come in the form of strong competition or a decline in consumer interest.

It pays to be brutally honest in your SWOT analysis. An accurate assessment is going to be of far more benefit than an unrealistic one.

Build a solid foundation

The aim of your business plan is to detail your strategy and set out your course of action.

Writing your plan will help you define your ideas and develop a roadmap. This is especially true if you know what your objectives are, even if you’re still unsure about how you’re going to achieve them.

By focusing on the above areas and outlining a plan, you can begin to build a business built on the foundation of credibility, efficiency and reliability.

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Business , Cut costs , Entrepreneurship , Management , Small business